Saturday, July 12, 2008

Cords of Love

Hosea 11:4
I drew them with human cords, with bands of love; I fostered them like one who raises an infant to his cheeks;

Greetings to all! My father-in-law stopped by my office this week to check in on me. We sat and talked for a while. He said that he just wanted to come by and to see how I was doing. You see Ali’s parents lost a child as well. Ali’s younger brother Philip was five when he went home to be with God and so their family knows all to well what it is like to be Minus One. Ali and I have talked many of nights about her parents and the loss of Phil, long before Cate was ever born or even a twinkle in Ali’s eye. Bill and Cheryl are a happily married couple and have been for almost thirty years. There is a picture of the two of them on their refrigerator that was taken on a boat off the coast of Italy somewhere, apparently when you get older you actually have money to travel, I am not sure, mine all goes to diapers, daycare, and MILK! Anyway, in this picture they both have the biggest cheesiest smiles on their faces and over the years I have often wondered how they could be so happy, and I mean genuinely happy, after losing their only son. I have always had a special place of respect and admiration in my heart for the two of them. Are they perfect, No. Do they do everything right, No. Do they bug me as in-laws do some times, I will not answer that:) They have three beautiful, wonderful, not to mention absolutely STUNNING daughters, who are all well rounded, spiritual, and fun girls. This just always kind of baffled me. Now, Ali and also have talked about how difficult it was after Phil died, how heartbroken her parents were and Bill and Cheryl have both shared these stories with me and this was all long before Cate. They have been blessed to have me in their lives for QUITE a while now, sometimes they probably thing a little too long.
As I mentioned in a previous blog three years ago my mother passed away. Now, my mother and I, put the FUNK in dysfunctional, but man did we love each other. We could fight like nobodies business, but in the end, we knew that there was nothing that would ever come between us. We had been through too much together to give up on each other. After her passing my heart was broken and I mean broken. Ali endured a lot during that time after Mom’s death. I really just checked out on her. I spent a lot of time alone, I spent a lot of time in silence, even with Ali around, and I spent a lot of time very angry at God, because, “How could He take my mother away from me at only twenty-seven years old? After all the work I had done for Him for all these years this is how he treats me!” It took me along time to work through all those feelings that were raging inside my heart. I remember one night sitting outside our home in Houston drinking a nice cold beer and suddenly I had this image in my head of a Phoenix rising from the ashes and the words, “You will rise” were spoken quietly into my heart. That day began a resolve for me; I knew I would be ok, I knew that Ali and I would be ok and that our hearts would mend.
As my Father in-law and I talked in my office I told him that we would be ok, there is a confidence in my heart and in the faithfulness of our God that assures me, we will be ok. Will it be today, tomorrow, next week or next month, probably not, but we will! I went on to tell my father-in-law that I feel like we have all the necessary pillars in place to succeed. We have our Faith, we have our Family, and we have our Friends. It is like God has set us up for success. I am a pretty self-aware person and as long as my family unit, Ali, Ella, Dude, and I are moving forward, then I will allow us to continue on the path I see working for each of us. If we start to waiver, then I will step in and get a little more involved on the individual level. If I am not aware that we are falling back, then our family and our friends will be very aware of it. As you might have noticed I don’t have hard time sharing my feelings of what is going on in my heart. Our friends are all walking in sync with us right now and if we begin to waiver, they WILL notice and none of them, Family or Friends, are shy about calling a spade a spade, Thank God!
On this Christian journey that we all walk I believe that those are some of the pillars that we must cling to in times of distress. I believe first and foremost we must draw close to our God and our Church for strength and wisdom. I believe that we must draw close to our families for experience and solace. And finally I believe that we must surround ourselves with friends of like mind, heart, and vision, true brothers and sisters, who are not afraid of the messiness that this world can bring into our lives and who know our hearts inside and out, that we can sit and cry, sit and laugh, sit and share a good glass of wine or a cold beer, or any other type of beverage you choose, maybe a coke or something. As the first reading from the Prophet Hosea says, “I drew them with human cords, with bands of love; I fostered them like one who raises an infant to his cheeks.” These three things are the cords that He holds us close to His cheek with and it is because of these cords that I have confidence that my family, although Minus One, will be ok, in fact, we might just even be better. I just encourage each of you to utilize these three pillars in your life. We love you all very much and ask that you continue to journey with us towards healing!
Much Love, The Cantrells


Anonymous said...

i was having a really rough day before reading this. thanks for sharing something so close to your heart. it means alot!

Anonymous said...


You have described two of the most lovable people I know, Cheryl & Bill1! They have always been an inspiration in our lives. Always willing to help our family in time of need, just as I know they are & will continue to help yours!
Love & hugs to all of you.

Aunt Wilma

Anonymous said...

Happy Anniversary to the two of you!!! Sorry you are celebrating "minus one". As I am spot cleaning around the house today, I find myself a little weepy every time I look over at Cate's picture on my fridge. Then, going through some papers in my kitchen, there she is again on the Thank you note that Ali had sent me for the gifts we gave Cate when she was born. I couldn't help but smile...sweet baby.
Much Love,
Jennie Gary

Anonymous said...

Charlie & Ali
We just wanted to wish you a Happy Anniversary.. Enjoy the day and your FAMILY..

Much Love and Prayers
The David's

Anonymous said...

God bless you and your beautiful family. I know you hear this all the time, but your writing is truly inspired and inspiring. Keep up that wonderful faith. We love you all.

The Calhouns

Crystal said...


You are such a wonderful person, and again a great writer. I always enjoy reading the blog. It makes me so happy to hear you say the words "we will be ok". God will always be by your side. Each of you!!! We will continue to pray for your family. Cate may not be with you in person, but she will always be with you in spirit and in your heart. Continue to go through this journey with God, which I know you will. I am more than happy to continue to pray for all of you!!!

God Bless

Anonymous said...

I wanted to let you know I received the prayer card and I thank you for it. You have such a beautiful daughter. It brought both joy and sorrow to my heart.

I am glad I received it on your anniversary. I hope it is a blessed and happy day. We're still praying for you every day! Many blessings as you celebrate the another year of the Sacrament of your Marriage in God's love! :)

Lisa Loftice

sumi said...

I don't feel very 'wordy' today and I don't have much to say except that I am keeping up with your blog and feel for you as you walk this journey. It is a very strange one, but I have found much grace along it, as I am sure you have.

Much love,

Anonymous said...

you don't know me, but i found your blog through a prayer request on my household's website (love of the lamb). your post today hit home for me. i just lost my mom this year. i was 22. she's my best friend and the pain in my heart sometimes seems so insurmountable. but you, and your family, give me such hope. "we will be ok". that simple phrase, that faith in Christ, that's what keeps me going. thank you. and, of course, you have my prayers.

~theresa bey

Anonymous said...

here's to you guys having a cheesy-grinned picture on your kids' fridge one day

happy 6th anniversary!

the bermans

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this blog. Ali, I want you to know that I will never forget Phillip or Baby Cate.

And just like Cheryl and Bill are an inspiration, so are you two.


Anonymous said...

Hey guys!

So after reading through the last two blogs..AMEN,Amen! Charlie, loosing your mom- the biggest fear I deal with, I can't imagine! She is up there holding and playing running, like ella would say from her drawing) with baby cate and phill! Beautiful!

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY you two! Congrats..
Miss you guys much. God Bless,

Anonymous said...

love you guys
the walthers

brotherburr said...

The day Cate went to be with the Lord was the same day my older brother, died at 54 of a heart attach. Your column has really helped me put some things in perspective. I may or may not be the first one to suggest this, but your journey would make an excellent book and a healing book for many people. Thanks for letting us see you and your family's heart. Lena G. Ready

Anonymous said...

The Lord has blessed each of us who share in your journey. He speaks through you to remind us all that to trust in Him.

Anonymous said...

I want to share a little bit of information with the readers here. I don't know a whole lot about Ali except that she is amazing! I do know Charlie and so, I ask you to take time to get to know him too...just a little.

For those of you who are "anonymous" and don't know Charlie, let me tell you, he is something else! He is by far one of the funniest human beings you will EVER meet. Anyone who knows him will tell you that what I am saying is absolutely TRUE. Surely you can see hints of it in his blog. There are stories that would make you laugh until you needed oxygen. That is one of his gifts that blesses us in such a huge way. Unlike some people, Charlie doesn't "hide" behind his humor. That, too, is very evident in his writings. I'm "just a tad" bit older than Charlie and have had the grace to watch him blossom into an incredible man of God. Many of us smiled through his courtship with Ali and tried our best to "warn" her. But she is one amazing lady and would just smile this beautiful smile. No wonder she smiled! Everytime Charlie was in her presence he was like a kid staring at the most amazing thing in the world. So, I feel safe in saying that all of us who know them would agree that they "are a match made in heaven."

I'm not surprised that God would choose Charlie to be the leader..the father...the husband to be gifted with a child that would come blasting into the world with a commanding presence (even before her birth), bring thousands of people to their knees before the throne of God and then be wisked away before we could ever imagine it to happen. Charlie has become the kind of man that knows exactly what God is doing. Ali knows that too. And now, we, sit in awe as we experience their sorrow. We are brought to tears by their human fraility holding on to a faith that will not be shaken.

Charlie, the funny man...the strong man. I just thought that those of you who don't know him would appreciate this bit of insight. He is one great guy!

maureen said...

Hey y'all... i'm out here at the intercessors of the lamb conference in omaha and have one of my baby cate pins on my bag and I've already gotten stopped a few times by people who recognized the pin and have been and are continuing to pray for you guys! We are lifting you up at the conference this week in a special way.
much love!

Lila Lambert said...

Lord Jesus, inasmuch as Your way is narrow and straight and greatly scorned by the world, give us the grace to bear our crosses... Like Jesus we face crucial decisions, stress and difficulties, and pain in our daily lives. If we can kneel with Jesus in His agony, He will be there in ours.
At the cross You beckon me
Draw me gently to my knees
Lost for words, I'm lost
in love...sweetly broken I
wholly surrender..

Anonymous said...

As usual you have made my day with your words! It's awesome how open to the Holy Spirit you are Charlie! WOW! Thanks!

Teresa Clark

kellysuch said...

after following the family's journey these last few months and attending Cate's funeral, I realized how truly precious relationships are with everyone that I know. After being on the outs for 2 years with my father's wife, I decided to make amends with her. We won't be best friends, but I will have a relationship with my brother and sister and have a weight lifted off of my shoulders and heart. All of this made possible through your blog, Charlie. Thank you from the bottom of my heart..Luck has nothing to do with why we're friends...God has a plan:)
Love you all,

Anonymous said...

Charlie - your blog or column as someone called it, is truly inspiring. I have it marked as one of my favorites and I check nearly everyday hoping that there will be another pearl of wisdom for me to read.

Thank you,

Claire said...

I know with all my heart that it was NO coincidence that, on Saturday July 12, you and Ali's anniversary, I attended the wedding of my two closest friends here in Lafayette...and the scripture read aloud at their service was Genesis 2:24. As the preacher (and boy, was he a preacher!) went on and on, harping over the word "cleave" and what it means, and should mean in a marriage...all I could think of was you and Ali. What better example is there, really! I pray that you and Ali continue to cleave to each other, to your kids, to your family and friends, to your little angel Cate, and of course to God. Know that we are all hear behind you for all the cleave-ing (cleavage? hahaha) you need.
Love yall!

Claire said...

sorry that would be "here"...not "hear" behind you...

Pat Broussard said...

I love you guys and am still with you. Hope you found a special place to celebrate your anniversary.

Charlie, I am so glad you had the opportunity to make peace with your mom. She knew and saw what an incredible man you are.
Forgive. Small word but sometimes so hard to do.

Megan Perkins said...

Ali and Charlie,

I still think about you every day and am continuing to pray for you as you start each day anew. I just want you to know that you are not forgotten.


Anonymous said...

I love you guys and you are in my thoughts and prayers daily and many times daily.
Love, Alyssa

Anonymous said...

Sweet Friends,

Just wanting you to know that we are still with you...praying, hoping, believing in a God so loving that He dwells within us.

The Landreneaus

Julie said...

Charlie, Charlie, Charlie, You are really something else. When we are feeling sorry for ourselves all we have to do is go to this blog and things change. You ARE one of the Father's apostles. I thank you for your uplifting words. I am continuing my prayers for all of you. GOD Bless your family.
Julie Roy